As a charity lawyer and trustee based in Birmingham, I am reminded daily of how Quakers have helped shape the city. It is less well known that the Society of Friends' book of discipline, Quaker faith & practice, is a great source of tips for board members. Among other things, it describes the Quaker business method, a suite of tools to support decision making. You may have heard of one of those tools - the use of silence at the start and end of Quaker meetings to help those involved ‘come with heart and mind prepared’ for the work of the meeting, and leave prepared for what follows. I have highlighted below some other practices which are worth considering, whatever the nature of your business.
The clerk of a Quaker meeting has a role which resembles that of a Chair – including agenda preparation, minute drafting, and ensuring the efficient conduct of business - but there are interesting differences of emphasis.
You may already apply some or all of these methods to create a culture where silence and reflection are part of your meetings. If some are less familiar to you, why not find out more about Quaker business methods and how a governance tool kit used for more than 350 years could work for you?
Shivaji Shiva is a Charities Partner at award-winning law firm VWV. He is also a serial charity trustee / non-executive board member, and an occasional transport campaigner, currently promoting Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the West Midlands. Shivaji can be contacted on 0121 227 3724 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.